Truck-eating bridge claims a new victim

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the truck in this article (and some of the links I’ve seen) are rentals. That leads me to believe these are not professional truck drivers doing it. The one time I witnessed a truck hitting an overpass, it was also a rental truck. People used to driving cars who sometimes drive a truck aren’t likely to consider this or think vague warnings are directed at them.

The one time I drove a rental truck across an area bridge, I pulled out the usual fee for cars and had it in hand when approaching the tollbooth. I offered it to the collector, and she gave me a blank look before explaining that I would need to pay a lot more than that! It never crossed my mind until that moment, and luckily I had enough extra cash to pay it.


What if instead of a banner it unfurls a fat man, and what if behind the truck is a busload of kills who will ram into the truck and all be killed because kids on school buses are dancing in the aisles instead of wearing seat belts?!? What would you do then huh genius, what would you do?!?

I like the water-curtain idea, and the lowering the road idea. Here’s another potential solution - raise the road to make it obviously too low for trucks.

But it does feel like with this many incidents someone should care to solve this.

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What do we think those trucks repairs cost? 10k or more? The FAQ linked above hypothesis that many are rental trucks and those insurance policies exclude overhead damage. so there seems to be at least 120k damage done and paid for by novice truck drivers at this site every year. Probably a lot of folks that can’t afford it. That seems like enough to consider spending a few million on an upgrade… but it’s the south so better that people suffer than government get involved or require something from some billion dollar industry…

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That would just make it a very rare danger to vehicles one class down. Campers and busses

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But which upgrade? See the link to the FAQ above. Every “easy solution” other than signage and the crash bar is not an easy or cheap as more than a few million dollars solution.


I think Mark’s suggestion (or a variant of it) is the only thing that’s going to work. @PsiPhiGrrrl has it right that the people driving these things don’t realize they’re overheight. They’re driving a rental or unfamiliar truck and haven’t even considered what their height is, so you can warn them all day long about Over 11’8" but they won’t realize the warnings are for them.

Bringing down a sign or arm with a ‘YES THIS MEANS YOU’ is the only thing that’s going to register.


Good point. Maybe the rental companies in the area should put warning signs inside their trucks; perhaps a sticker on the dashboard saying:
“Don’t even THINK of driving anywhere NEAR the Norfolk Southern–Gregson Street Overpass”


Of course not. Professional truck drivers are trained to drive trucks and when they get into a truck they mentally shift into truck-driving mode and all the considerations and duties of care click into place, including awareness of the size of their vehicle and load. Ordinary folks driving rentals get behind the wheel and their brains tell them “this is familiar, just like driving a car!” and the result is a bridge with a safety guard that wonders what it did in another life to deserve this.


Their GPS told them to never-mind the signs and flashing lights. “Pay no attention, go straight!”


This makes we want the histogram of vehicles by height, to determine if there is an ideal low height

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Okay, I have to admit, this really is entertaining to watch

If it were me I would solve it by lowering the road one foot. It’s like the old joke where the farmer complains about his horse’s ears hitting the top of the barn door to his neighbor.

“why don’t you just dig a bit of the dirt away under the door?”

“No, you don’t understand- its his ears that are hitting.”


Oldtaku and Mark are on to something: It’s a message problem.

I’d suggest “You are Overheight -STOP!” or “Your truck’s gonna hit this bridge!”. Or even a set of Burma Shave-like signs that progressively warn of the danger.
Your truck is high
The bridge is low
You miss the sign
You’ll need a tow.

Or all of the above.


Make the lasers powerful enough, and what’s left of the truck won’t have a problem getting under the bridge.


The clearance of the bridge is 11’ 8". Durham city buses have a clearance of 11’ 6".


This is why I think the best solution might be a sign that says “NO TRUCKS” (approximately). People in trucks are better at remembering they’re in trucks (I hope).

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A few years back I forgot I had a couple of bikes on the roofrack of my car. Drove into a multistory car park and… well, it was spectacular. They hit the restricted height sign just under the handlebars and caused the front mounts of the rack to spring free. This then meant the whole rack (with well secured bikes) rotated up and back, allowing the back end to smash my rear window.

The rear mounts then also popped, leaving the bikes - still upright and mounted to the rack - sitting on the road behind. Got out of car, looked at carnage, and just said ‘I hate my life right now’. Amazingly, despite a slight bend in the mounts the rack still works fine…

(in my defence it was a hospital car park and my son had just been admitted, so I may have been distracted… he’s fine now thankfully!)


I think the system that they currently have is fine. You only need to hit that bridge once, and you’ll never ever do it again.


How about just lie about the clearance? Just say it’s 11’ 0" and call it a day.

Maybe the answer is in the title of this post.

Make the bridge into a giant face with chomping teeth that close when the light is red.

It wont stop the accidents but watching the bridge literally eat the trucks will be awesome.